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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 30, 2012 12:15am-1:05am EST

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ability for the lowest classes to lift themselves and make themselves whole and to prosper. without reading, they can do this. this is why my own background, i was raised in a foster family. my mom read at i guess a third-grade level but she lifted me four days a week. romance magazines and i didn't understand the magazines. i didn't learn about through romance until i was in my 30s. [laughter] and i wasn't attracted to the stories so much but i was attracted to being with my mom, my foster mom.
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i would watch her finger go across the page and eventually, because the reading level of true romance was fairly low, i could pick out the words and by the time i reached the age of five, i could read to her as she a parent and as she worked. i never knew she was giving me something. i never knew she was teaching me a skill, but today i know it. >> walter you want onto school for a few years, right? >> right. >> and you are in school until what age? >> i was in school until i was 15. i did fairly well in school until i was 14. when i was 14 my family began to disintegrate. had an uncle that was murdered and my father went into depression and my mom, who
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was -- became an ahca holick. that's so completely filled my mind that my grades plummeted, but i had looks. i had the new york public library. thank god for the new york public library. and i had books. when i had the difficulties with my mom, i found my emotional voice and portrait of the artist as a young man. his mother asked him to pray with her and he refused. that tension, and when i had the idea of sometimes being fearful, i had that batch of courage. books gave me a voice that expressed my individual
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humanity. >> books helped used turn into a writer. do you want to talk for a moment about how you got into writing? >> i began writing, i had speech difficulties as well but my siblings all had speech difficulties. we came up in west virginia. i couldn't speak very well or read very well aloud, so eventually a teacher said, right something. i will throw my books that you or hate you. depending on how far she was. she said i could write something and i really enjoyed that. that was the only thing i was praised for at that age. i enjoyed writing.
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at 15 i was put back into school and at 16 i joined the army on my 17th birthday. >> you have before you one of the most prolific writers of literature for young people. walter is written over 100 books. he is known throughout the country and the world for his concern about youth which is reflected in most of what we would call young adult fiction which has a focus based on his experience, being born in harlem and being a new jersey boy basically, and this is a career that is remarkable and is one that he is now sharing through his travels around the country. i would like to ask you to talk a little bit about what is happening, what happened during her first year of touring.
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the only conditions really for a national ambassador would be the selection by the jury, which consists of experts in children's and young people's literature, which we hosted the children's book counsel with myself and a number of experts including robert adelson who is the chair, and that we ask the person that we choose is known not only for his or her book, but their ability to relate to kids basically. it turned out to be a key thing and the little obligation, the minor obligations for the poet consultant, poet laureate for the library of congress, they need to appear at the library of congress. they have a couple of other minimum obligations and then it's up to them. for walter and our two previous ambassadors, john chaska and
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katherine patterson, they have not only open children's book week in new york but of course come to our national book festival so we are getting a guarantee of a top-notch writer through this obligation. but walter in particular chose a theme, "reading is not an option," and we were able to send him during his first year around the country and i think you've visited some new places. i do think he went to louisiana book festival. >> yes. >> which was sponsored by the louisiana center for the book. i would like you to perhaps point to a couple of these wonderful experiences that i know you had, not only at places like the festivals but your concern about visiting detention centers and talking to young people in detention centers. >> one of the qualifications you
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didn't mention was that you had to be very handsome. [laughter] >> distinguished with a small d and at least six feet four inches. >> i am particularly interested in prisoners. i want to know their reading levels, what did they read, what was going on with there are adventure with books, and for me, i had been in this game for a long time. i have been writing for years and years and years. i have seen prisoners that i first saw in grade school, in second grade and third-grade, and you will see them 15 years later in a maximum security prison. to me, that is absolutely
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shocking but it's the truth, and i find some young people who, to reading for the first time in prison, because they don't have the community putting them down. they calmed down from their family anxieties, and they discover books. we can send them books, and we have through many of the organizations that i work with. very often they can't accept hardcover books. they rip off the hardcover on the book. it's very difficult but many of the prisoners tell me, especially the male prisoners, and the females are growing at a
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tremendous rate, that if they had read early on, they could have changed their lives. they could have known number one that their anxieties were not unique, that their problems were not unique and that they could have found ways of solving their problems. i was in a prison yesterday. there are kids, to me they are kids, between 16 and 18. some of them were in jail for murder. to see a young man 16 years old who is now facing 39 years of his life in jail, and then understanding also that there is another family that suffered a loss is shocking. here is a young man i wish that i could have grabbed when he was
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seven and grabbed when he was eight and maybe may be taught his parents or his caretakers or grandparents the dialogue of reading. if i could've done that i could've made a difference. >> obviously there is a continuing motivation in the hopes they can make a difference. >> and i try to correspond with them. the system does not make it easy to correspond with these people. they don't allow typewriters. they only allow a small correspondence and it's difficult. >> that will be part of your second year as well i know, as are traveling ambassador. we are also making an effort to send walter to other parts of the country and i heard a rumor you are going to me making your first trip to south dakota.
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the south dakota book festival where you will be featured and that will be a wonderful book event. we also have the going to florida on the east coast for part of this. but in between, at each stop, he is asked to try to see young people in some other retention centers. walter i have another question for you. i see you are wearing your rather handsome metal. >> you can touch the metal but it means -- [inaudible] >> the metal that we had made for our various national ambassadors and the first one john chaska has continued to wear his. katherine patterson isn't quite as frequently caught wearing her metal but was very pleased that you have it.
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>> it's awkward in the shower. [laughter] >> tell me how you felt when you learned worry -- you were selected as national ambassador? >> you know i've been looking at literacy for many many years and i have seen the gaps ,-com,-com ma especially in the english-speaking countries. i have been very much concerned, so while i am very grateful for the opportunity to spread the word and to read so much about letters he and all the research that has been done, it's a responsibility. it's a responsibility that i take very seriously. i hope it don't -- i want to finish this term, this year, my life being useful.
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i want to be useful. on my tombstone, i wanted to say he was useful. he lived a long time. but i want to be useful. i don't want just to say the word. i want to make a difference. >> well you already are and i thank you on behalf of not only the library of congress and the children's book counsel and every child of reader but on behalf of the audience and for our country. it's a wonderful job you are doing. let's give walter dean myers a round of applause. [applause] we continue our coverage of the international summit of the book with a panel titled "the role of cultural institutions in fostering the future of the book."
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this is about 50 minutes. [applause] >> now we are coming to the second session of our day. it will be a panel discussion on the role of cultural institutions in the role of fostering the book. i will turn to our moderator to introduce the panelists once we are all on stage. a distinguished figure in publishing and journalism and i'm sure you've heard of them. president publisher random house trade group, the founding editor of mass traveler magazine, editorial director of the vice president of "u.s. news and world report" for the daily news, "atlantic monthly". currently he is editor-at-large for writers and you may know him as i do, as the author of the book, the american century. sir harold is one one of the wos most distinguished journalist and has received the highest
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awards for his lifetime achievement. please welcome sir harold evans. [applause] >> my contribution is that my grandfather was illiterate and all never forget the time my father was reading the daily times which i was then editing and if other was a steam train driver who left school at 11. but loved reading. he flung the paper to one side and he said, is that amazing that you are reading the newspaper in your grandfather could not have read a word of it? that was the influence really of reading, first marmite father and then my mother who left school at 11 and went to work in the cotton field.
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we are going to have a discussion and a wonderful start with walter dean and how we can actually get people to read. there is no question. this is carla hayden. you can find out all about her in the program. i was greatly taken when she referred to the book to me in a way i'd never heard it referred to before. she said of the container. i've been fretting about the last 30 years about the book aside and know it. i am used to hard copy of books and anyway karla has redeemed my faith and hear somebody else. he is from publishing and now doing good work.
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where is -- oh he is here. [laughter] we know what you do. when you think about it, apart from telling you about my grandfather, i just came from their there him which is my university not to make a speech in the cathedral but i am always reminded whenever i go back to durham, which is such an important institution in the rise of christianity and also as a book. i just want to read you one little thing here. going back to the eighth century, about 790, and many of you know the golden gospel, he
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testifies as follows. in the name of our lord jesus christ, i am my wife obtained these books from the heathen army -- though -- those are the vikings, and now known as danes possibly means possibly the most civilized nation in the world. they are. the most prosperous in several lies nation but then there were barbarians so there's hope for everybody. [laughter] in the name of our lord jesus christ i obtain these books from the heathen army with peer money that was with pure gold and the do it for the love of god and for the benefit of our souls and because we did not wish these
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holy books to remain longer in heathen positions. now they wish to give them to christ's church to pray send on to the glory of god. the rise of christianity and the other religions the book is crucial. i want to start really by saying everybody is terrified at the moment the special in the publishing world which i too escaped from actually in books. how can we encourage people to read the book and does it matter whether they read the book digitally or on line are not? does it matter? >> you mentioned the container. >> you mentioned the container. i stole. >> thank you. we are finding in this is speaking from the public library perspective, that we are actually attracting more people with the poll of the digital
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container. in fact we just received a grant to expand the publishing industry is going through all of its challenges, a grant to provide more e-book titles and also to actually loan the readers, generic e-readers to the public so that they can download and then walk out of the library with this reader. >> you can rented -- >> they can download the readers and do that and they can also have the other books so we are finding that actually it's encouraging the active reading. >> i am going to come back to you jim. i just want to stop another publisher here, agent of sort. so you don't care whether it's in the book or or in digits? >> i think as long as people rated it doesn't matter.
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the generational shift points to -- >> what about the beauty of the book? >> i love books. i don't know that the next generation will have the same experience that i grew up with in terms of the tactile experience, the physical experience. and is a professional who is concerned with getting work out, i don't care as long as they are having that solitary experience with the work of a writer. it breaks my heart. i mean i think the container is beautiful. i love to look at the book, not sure she is here. i love to look at the decisions the publisher has made with the writer about whether a book is going to have embossing, whether it's going to have ragged edges. i love to watch people in bookstores touch books and have
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that tester looks very and but i think ultimately what we get is something so deep and personal about this kind of one-on-one experience between a reader in the writer that however that happens, we need to need to encourage it. technology is bringing us someplace else and as long as we have artists in our fold and keep readers and writers connected, we will be okay. >> mr. leach, such in its -- influential figure and you have been previously, okay? and directing your energies continuing literacy and the preservation of all that means, you don't care either whether it's a physical book or digits? >> in 1 cents, the agency that i had, because i hate to speak exclusively as an individual,
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has a love affair with the printed word. but while we are not agnostic exactly on how something is presented, we are very public oriented so you do everything you possibly can to move thoughts into the public domain. that implies that you use every conceivable instrument. we are in the knowledge development and the knowledge dissemination business so we do for him. we preserve old books. we help finance the writing of new books and we tried to bring the public in to the access of the knowledge that exists and therefore we are very big into digitization, and in fact one of my favorite quotes is their
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archivist in the united states who likes to say particularly in the area of research, for many young people, young scholars, if it is non-the internet it does not exist. that is a fairly awesome thought. and that means iris speaks to nostalgia as well as tactility as well as tactility as well as tactility not think we all identify with that but we also identify with what i hope is a dual circumstance, so you can have a book with paper and you can also have a book that is access to the internet and that is almost the ideal world when you are speaking with the book. it made be the use of paper will receive but that's beyond our power. that's going to be a public choice. >> in terms of -- [inaudible] >> is a former children's librarian i have to say and research has shown that the
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attack dial and the book is an object for that container is where you are getting the earliest and most important experiences with text and illustration. that is where you find the wonderful embossing and if you ever seen children's picture books, you know that is the type of creativity and engaging the mind that the digital is not as useful and helpful from zero to six. learning and having that appreciation of the object can happen earlier. >> i don't have the original comets in the museum but somebody gave me a replica, beautifully embossed. if you have never seen them they are just incredible but you touched on on a point of real and portents when you mention children's books and i would like to ask everybody here, i have five children.
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when i was a young man bringing my kids up, i was really depressed by the low-level of the books that were available to children. in in the end the best books we have -- i didn't give them mark twain immediately or charles dickens. i gave them abridgments of treasure island, which were no longer available. i would have liked to have done that when i was a publisher, so what can you do with mr. leach to actually make the reading experience and excitement for the children? there is all the argument that they should look and see and fanatics in all this but how can you actually get that assignment. obviously you have to go through all the fanatics stuffed it up when you get to children's books -- when i is the father, and i still am a father.
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[laughter] i found that very frustrating. what can you do about that? >> the challenge to young people is very terrific and i think we have to bring back our former speaker, or our ambassador. my wife is a children's book writer and she writes in art history. she finds it's enormously help to involve the visual. in fact, at the youngest ages, the great books are pictures with a few words and then they get more and more sophisticated in the sense of fewer pictures and more words and that might be a step that words. but it's a fact of how we deal with things. the greatest challenge in america when you look at the statistics in and crime, the kids that do not learn to read have not a slight factor but an
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overwhelming factor that they are going to spend a lot of time in jail. this is a national challenge for all of us, but the other aspect is, what is relevant to kids today? you can hardly dictate to relevance that there are aspects of the imagination that people seek out. sometimes in the worst kinds of circumstances, the greatest kind of joy is sought. i saw a demonstration of this that seems really odd and it applies to the book from another visual medium. a nonprofit organization gave a colony of people living in the country of lebanon that they were refugees and therefore in a camp, all the kids a small automatic camera and they took pictures. they were astonished that every single picture, almost without
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exception, kids by instinct chose someone smiling, something funny. there is a great, as sesame street is found, a great kind of appeal of a new world that people want to visit. books are the way we travel. they are the adventures of life. and so there seems to be something very young in the human spirit that seeks something not just exactly the same but something somewhat different. >> anyone else? >> i sat at a roundtable with a -- and an 8-year-old and that parents are a novelist and a poet. i was shocked to see the 4-year-old spending quite a lot of time on the family ipad. actually there is more than one ipad in that house and
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reading on the ipad. and i was just offended. how can you let this child play with this device at the table? meanwhile they-year-old is actually in her books. she is kind of the bookworm. at school she is very high up on the bookworm and she kind of looks down on her brother because she think she is more adult i reading more -- real books. and the parents said, you know it doesn't matter. this is what turns him on. if it's a screen that he is playing with, these getting through book from beginning to end, we don't care. when he goes to bed, it's bedtime with the book. that's the rule but if at the table it keeps him happy and occupy it to read dr. seuss electronically, we are okay with that. i realize there's a shift going on. >> in opposition, between the book with a smile on the face
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and so on in the video games, i mean most today are doing video games which is fairly violent eyelets say. >> that's an issue for the parents. i think that's an issue for those of us working the arts and humanities in publishing. that is about parenting. but the smaller and more efficient devices become as we grow technologically as a culture, certainly the more distractions every device will have on it. but i think, you and i can look back to the publishing industry crying about the vcr. oh my god that vcrs going to ruin the industry because people will have these big things that they put into the big machine and they're not going to read any more. every generation has some bugaboo but every generation has retained reading because it's primary, it's intimate.
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it defines us culturally so i think we should keep video games off the table. >> when i was around the house the first thing i did was -- the library of classics. the best thing sesame had was to tie in with the bbc. they were doing jane austen so was suggested, why don't we cover this again. one of the staff said why don't we cover all the jane austen tied to the imagery and the tvs. we sold out. we sold out and it's almost as if jane austen had been completely rediscovered thanks to the tv. which raise another point, discussing the ration ship between hollywood and -- hollywood movies and literature recently with with the man who heads showtime and michael
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linton and michael sheehan was arguing. it's okay to depart from the literal truth of the book to raise the dramatic and digital moment which intrigued me. >> i think all librarians can attest to the power of having popular media take a book, right after book is on television or in the movies. we have a rush of people and we use that sneakily to say if you like this, try that. >> that's good, love it. >> the other thing -- >> by the way come in my lifetime the biggest single asset, humble the loose library and to say this is the book for you, so it proved to be. >> that is the key in terms of having someone there. i was so pleased to you the investors say that librarians should not be defensive about
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reading -- "reading is not an option." it's going to take you away, its choice. it's not optional and we should just say that is librarians because when you have a household ,-com,-com ma if you don't have that reading culture or people who are reading that provide that opportunity for young people, grabbing them when they are seven or eight or beyond and providing an opportunity for the family to read together. we have a program called family reading olsen we use high-quality picture books and the parents and the caregivers share those with the young people. these are in transitional homes. all the housing projects and things like that. most of the time the adults have very little that are sit levels but these picture books give them an opportunity to not be
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ashamed that they cannot read. it turns into a discussion. >> how many people come? >> in baltimore city for instance we have 38% of adult illiteracy rate. >> why, 38%? >> and that is totally ill or it and then you think about five to 10 more percent that are barely letter it and people, that's why when we looked at technology as a way that is nonthreatening in a sense that they are reading with these tools so we are we are trying to grab them however we can. >> do you know, how many libraries -- and this is a broad question in a way. since literacy is obviously a -- and i support ms. smith in new york with the literacy program where she raises money and also a lot of other things but how many libraries or how many
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public institutions apart from the schools and i'm talking about libraries, actually of literacy programs for people who can't read a word and are totally ashamed even to admit it? >> oh, many. the american library association is strong on this issue and we have adult literacy with very large dimensions in the country, some have related to immigration and some of it related to a greater amount of dyslexia that we ever imagined. and so, and a substantial library does have a literacy program. >> we run the nation's largest literacy program. we are two floors apart. i am very fond of his wife. my colleague. the endowments are so different in terms of their mission
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really, but utterly complementary, wouldn't you say >> just being very precise, the national and about the arts is into creativity so that means poetry, music etc. and the national and i'm at for the humanities is into perspective, history, literature and philosophy and the related discipline so we complement each other and we have overlaps. for instance, if you put the word history of before any subject it falls into the endowments of a community so history of art is an neh fund. >> it's goes to him. >> now it goes to meet. >> there are times that we both funded. >> who is the bigger of you to? >> we are precisely the same in size. intellectual is on the humanities side. >> they survive the culture wars
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>> what happens when you get a funding fight and you have to appeal? >> first of all we work together. we complement each other and we complement each other in the facing off with capitol hill which we are on today. that is, we advocate each other and we have her cicely the same funding level. and so there is no competition between us. there is a competition for federal resources and there's also a competition for proving your worth to survive to the public and both are absolutely fair circumstances. the country as a whole, the endowments are frankly less well-funded than they were 30 years ago and we peaked in 1979. we were about a third up where
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we were in 1979. in terms of impact we would both argue that we are quite vibrant. in fact my institution, i call it a billion word agency of the united states government. we have pursed -- precipitated for publishing over a billion words. that is a rather impressive circumstance. >> iraq? >> what can i say? for those who don't know, the endowment in terms of literature literature -- >> in terms of all we are we are about here, the book? >> the book we support nonprofit publishing throughout america. we are the primary source of funding for non-profit literary publishing. >> gray wolf press in minneapolis minnesota, one of the strongest midsized independent publishers is designated as nonprofit and until we have an international
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audience. this must be explained. i went through this at the frankfurt book fair couple of months ago. in the states, there is a tax designation which allows a publisher to be essentially charitable. thus, it moves itself out of the commercial from and is designated as nonprofit. it's doing work for the public good. it is in essence allowed to take charitable contributions to two this essential work. so that community who have chosen to be nonprofit and they tend to be publishers of high literary fiction translation, poetry. [inaudible] >> we do actually. we fund fellowships to writers and a raider who gets a fellowship we spend a million dollars a year, invest a million dollars a year every of of the year in either poetry or prose and it allows it brighter more
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comfort to go into the commercial market knowing they can take a lower advance. we fund translators and that too is a wonderful thing because when someone comes out of our process of funding translation it is more likely that gray will forge a row or knopf will say -- we are feeling the commercial economy as well by supporting centers where they support workshops. we are all at some level or others, writers will move to gray wolf back to ferrar back to gray will. we will find a small house in michigan called sank to do the digital back list of a lot of writers who have fallen that it print at simon & schuster and random house because there is no value in that copyright at simon & schuster or random house.
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we are in there fighting and we are in there playing in and their relationship to the commercial field is arm's-length at best, but we do peer review to give our grants. we actually look to the commercial world for their vice fund where we are going in this new digital ground so we can use the device to help our nonprofit publishers. >> when i was a random house and jason epstein is one of the most distinguished and invaded -- when he was trying to tell me i often spent more than i thought was reasonable like a couple hundred thousand, while a lot of money. in this particular occasion it was around $300,000. he said, it was the history of the spanish requisition. he said this book will be around long after we are all dead. actually in the end all of the books he recommended actually
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were there in the end but it's tricky publishing. just to mention one instance, i had one year 12 books in the library association, 12 books and i had seven of them. corporate dog, the united states and five and i was very proud of them. i saw someone have an argument with my chairman about whether her book should be profitable and i said it can be done. i said to my financier, the library association, tell me what profit they are make in. so he came back and he said, are you ready? you lost $363,000 on most books. i said, go way. go to "the new york times" listen go through the editor's choices. he came back and said 27 books on "the new york times" best. he said that's the good news.
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you lost $367,000 on these, even more. the point as you said, if you published to that made a profit of $2 million, that is a world of publishing. in terms of the book, publishers i must say in their defense, often publisher and books that they know are going to lose. and then surprise surprise it occasionally does work. that is why i was asking you that. >> this gets back to the point of this talk. which is about how cultural institutions can help. i think is publishing goes through a very radical transition right now, there needs to be a call for more cultural institutions to cultivate literature to come to the aid of libraries could you come to the aid of scholars because that investment, that commercial publishers make will likely be smaller as the profits are smaller, as they are on
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digital books. sbc merger between places like random house and penguin. as we see layoffs across the industry. as we see a lack of independent stores on streets in america. as we see libraries fighting with their communities about and how to find money to go digital to help people. as we find that the arts are the first thing to be cut and scholarship is the first thing to be caught in this culture. i think we need to address what cultural cetaceans can do and how many of us need to actually carry that torch and get out there and find or support for the field of literature and libraries and scholarship. to keep looks alive and well. ..
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>> that has been helping to match those public dollars so far two's of largest library that was a call to
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publishers that libraries will invest and will be supported so just coming together is wasn't example that we will survive the digital age. >> there has been price is -- issues. can you tell me how bad is going? >> freeing the of librarians backed several years ago libraries are things that we are your partners.
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for those who cannot purchase bookstores are having difficulties with 86 authors and talk about the where people can get the materials it is important for librarians to make changes. we have electronic resources library inner structure needs to change that as well. >> canadians from other countries? i have one example with the nobel prize winner front ensample called museum of
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innocents. going into the museum of innocence which is a building in tehran. said this fall of all of those things from the lipstick or the handbag and people we're going into shark to buy this particular handbag for the museum is entirely made up these objects never existed so philip get the lipstick for the bet that she slept in the coming it is in the museum and there is no such thing.
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